By Neil Leverett
- South Africa face England in the third and final T20 international on Sunday at SuperSport Park in Centurion
- Tourists play final match of tour after levelling the series 1-1 in Durban on Friday
- After thrilling series, full spoils at stake with both sides eyeing World Cup later this year
CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA – As South Africa and England square off in the third and final T20 international on Sunday, can the tourists complete a series comeback at SuperSport Park?
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Centurion set for explosive finale
After 50-over cricket rightfully took its’ place on the centre stage in 2019, the new decade has thrust T20 cricket back into the limelight. With 2020 set for the World Cup’s 20-over edition, South Africa and England have served up a thrilling series to begin the year in the build-up to Australia.
Following two almost mirrored final-over scenarios, both sides find themselves with a win apiece at 1-1 ahead of the final T20 international at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.
Only 48 hours after falling desperately short in getting over the line at Buffalo Park, the tourists exacted their rather nervy revenge on Friday, leaving a winner-take-all clash in the High Veld.
Not be outdone by the visitors’ now patented firepower, captain Quinton de Kock has led by example in his early games as Proteas’ skipper but after a swashbuckling 65 at Kingsmead, can the South African opener steer his side toward a precious win against the former T20 champions?
Tourists seek ruthless edge
Holding dominant positions in many instances during this series, England once more made heavy weather of victory from a strong stance in Durban. However, after hobbling over the line last time out, can the tourists learn from their lessons on Sunday and find a critical ruthless edge?
As Adil Rashid gleefully clung on to Bjorn Fortuin‘s final-ball attempt to reach the boundary in Durban, the win would have been a huge relief to skipper Eoin Morgan after England’s dramatic collapse in East London last Wednesday.
Now, in looking to tie up the series victory, opening duo Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow will once more look to provide a pedestal for victory, but the importance in avoiding the now customary middle-order wobble cannot be underestimated.
Too often over the past two outings we have seen the likes of Morgan and Joe Denly fail to carry England on toward their target and with the bowlers themselves finding a rather too inconsistent line with the Kookaburra, the touring party are more reliant than ever on their own brand of pyrotechnics – than with the ball.
It is of course the nature of T20 cricket for any given contest to flip on a dime, but England are more culpable than most in surrendering match-winning positions. With no chances for a reprieve at SuperSport Park, the tourists will need to show their business side.
Duo eye World Cup momentum
With the T20 World Cup now just over eight months away, victory for either side in Centurion could build the platform for a fruitful year before the trip to Australia in October.
To add a fascinating narrative, both nations play Aaron Finch‘s men in T20 form in the coming four months. With the Proteas welcoming the Baggy Greens for both T20 and ODI series beginning later this month, England will depart for home almost simultaneously to Australia touching down in the Rainbow Nation.
Morgan’s men then go into T20 hiatus on Sunday, before a limited-overs series against the Australians in the summer themselves beginning at the Riverside in Durham on July 3. It is not only a series win on the line this weekend, but key momentum.
For England in particular, the transition into World champions has brought with it its’ problems but to finish the tour to South Africa with two out of three series wins, would be the perfect tonic for Morgan and his charges.
Add to that the tantalising prospect of holding full dominance over the cricketing world – with the potential of holding both World Cups over the short-form of the game – England know the pivotal nature of what a win could bring with it in Centurion.
South Africa face England in the third and final T20 international on Sunday at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
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